Finding My Heart
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
My life is pretty simple these days. Wake up, make lunch, send kids to school, clean up self and house, run errands, make dinner, pack bags, pick up kids, drive to San Francisco. My friends are thinking - that can't be you. You don't ever drive into San Francisco. But, yes. It appears I do, each and every day, now that my children are cast members of A.C.T.'s production of A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol a story about finding the Christmas spirit and goodwill towards men? Let's be honest - sitting in traffic at 3rd and King does not the Christmas spirit bring. The BART does even less for my goodwill towards men. And every evening walking along Market Street gives me zero opportunity to tone down my "bah humbug" because it is fogged out by the contact high I'm getting from our happy weed smokers. I know. It's legal.
I am not much of a distance driver - I keep my radius very small on purpose. I am not much of a city mouse - the burbs of Burlingame represent my urban limit. I am not much for the over-stimulation that comes with each city experience. There is too much to watch out for. Too much to walk around. Too much to avoid. Too much to process. In SF, particularly on Market Street, you can just use your imagination and double it.
So what have I done with my precious moments in the city, once I have squeezed the car into a parking space, silenced Google Maps and unclenched my fists from the steering wheel? You had better sit down, for the excitement might be too much for you:
I caught up on emails and worked in the car.
I fell asleep in my car. For 2 hours.
I walked through Chinatown, up and down Grant, 3 times for cardio.
I went to Westfields for poke.
I drank flavored water and sat in the lobby of the Four Seasons. The potty is nice there, too.
I thought it might be fun to shop for bargains at Marshall's. It actually wasn't.
I thought the same thing about Macy's. It wasn't either.
But just last week, I decided to really go and DO something. And instead of falling asleep alone in my dark car in the darkest corner of the Union Square parking garage, I tried something new.
I met a friend at One65 for pastry. Delicious.
I went back the following day for a glass of wine and snacks with my East Coast bestie. Technically, we were day drinking since it was only 4:oopm when we started but - we weren't driving. We also stayed back for dinner, allowing traffic to infuriate others while we dined together with the family after rehearsal.
I checked out the views from the famous Marriot sky lounge. It must be famous - it was more crowded than a Costco up there.
We went to Chinatown, but this time we took silly selfies, walked into the stores, enjoyed magical ice cream, and stood in the middle of the street for the obligatory money shot of the cable car heading up California Street.
And just yesterday, I allowed the pesky but very handsome Lavalier skincare salesman to treat my eyes with their $1,000 serum. Amazing stuff, I must say. He was quite persistent and I didn't mind - I've got time to listen. I grabbed a latte in the Nespresso lounge - my first latte and my first city lounge. And we took the BART home, without incident, cursing or outrage, from ourselves or others. I think this is what progress looks like.
And here we are, nearly four weeks into this completely self-inflicted adventure and something has created a disturbance in the force. I am reluctantly looking forward to my next foray into town. I can't say I'm feeling like a native, but I'm certainly no longer feeling like I don't have the capacity to handle what the city tosses my way. And I certainly no longer feel like being in such close proximity to this place we have called home for 5 years is a burden to bear. SF, with all of its quirks and crazy, has much to offer, if I am willing to shelve the complaints and open my heart a bit.
A Christmas Carol may prove to be a life-changing production for us, changing the trajectory of our lives in ways big and small. One or both of my children might decide to pursue theater as a career because of this experience. One or both might decide to specifically never do theater again because of this experience. And me, the mom turned taxi driver, might end up learning to call San Francisco home. The forced solo adventure has opened the door to a fresh look at a place that I stayed very removed from. I needed a fresh look, a harder look, and a new appreciation for what has been here all along waiting for me to experience. Sometimes is takes that nudge. That push. That reminder to bloom where you are planted and just deal. Do better than deal - learn to thrive. A lesson I will not soon forget.
The song proudly declares we left our heart in San Francisco, but let's not get crazy. A Christmas Carol has helped me find a little more of my heart, a little more love for this place, a little more peace with this town. A newfound, if tentative, appreciation. That is unexpected, and probably just what I needed, just in time for the holiday season to begin. The only proper way to end this post is with my daughter's proclamation at the end of the show - "God bless us everyone." Yes. Bless us. Me, you, and all of my new friends in San Francisco.